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The Tennessee Aquarium is
Jammin' with the Jellies

Visit Jellies: Phantoms of the Deep; enjoy a free reggae concert

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (March 29, 1999) - Floating in a vibrant sea of blue, brightly colored West Coast Sea Nettles pulsate with a rhythm all their own. Trailing lacy white tentacles, these captivating jellyfish dance to the rhythm of the world's oceans.

Get face-to-face with the Tennessee Aquarium's Phantoms of the Deep and celebrate the arrival of spring by Jammin' with the Jellies. The brainless, heartless and spineless residents of our jellyfish gallery will mesmerize visitors of all ages. April 7-11, the Aquarium will also give visitors a taste of the Caribbean with a free concert by the reggae band, Milele Roots.

More than stinging balls of slime, jellyfish are the fragile jewels of the underwater world. The aquarium's gallery features hundreds of graceful jellyfish in illuminated exhibits. Dim lighting and ethereal music enhances the serene setting.

Jellyfish - in spite of their name - are not really fish, but relatives of sea anemones and corals. They are 97 percent water and have no eyes, brain or backbone. However, even without the complex features other animals use to survive, jellyfish manage to prosper. Jellyfish have three main parts: round umbrella-like bells which propel the animals with a pulsating motion; tentacles that sting and immobilize prey; and oral arms that are used to eat their prey. With this basic equipment, jellyfish defend themselves, make daily and seasonal journeys, stay together and occupy all the oceans of the world.

Of the estimated 2,000 species of jellyfish, only about 70 are armed with stinging cells. But with only one sense, that of touch, the primitive creatures may mistake unsuspecting swimmers for food, releasing thousands of tiny harpoons at the point of impact and causing an itchy rash.
The jellies gallery is the first in a series of changing exhibits designed to make each visit to the Aquarium new and exciting. Jellies: Phantoms of the Deep will be replaced by another exciting exhibit in the year 2000.

After visiting the mysterious world of the jellyfish, visitors can immerse themselves in the sounds of the islands as the Aquarium presents the reggae band, Milele Roots. The band will perform a free concert every day April 7-11 from 1 to 3 p.m. on the plaza between the Aquarium and Market Street.

The local band has been together for about two years and features a wide range of ages, nationalities and musical backgrounds. "Our band members range in age from 21 to 62," said Allen Eady, guitarist. "Although we come from different backgrounds, our common interest in music brought us together."

Several members of Milele Roots are music majors at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Earl LeMeitre, who does percussion and vocals, is a tailor; and Eady owns his own business.

"Some of our guys are from right here in East Tennessee and others come from Haiti, Trinidad and Cameroon," Eady said. "Each of us brings something different to the music."

Christian Craan, who plays bass, added that the band's diversity is echoed by the diversity of their fans. "We have grandmothers who come out to hear us play, but our music also appeals to children - people of all ages can relate to reggae." Craan said. "I think it's because our music is positive and upbeat - everyone enjoys it. Our music is also about all people coming together."

The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is the largest freshwater aquarium in the world. Built with private contributions, this non-profit educational organization is dedicated to the understanding, conservation and enjoyment of the Tennessee River and related ecosystems. Admission is $10.95 per adult and $5.95 per child, ages 3-12. The Aquarium is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas and is accessible to people with disabilities. The Aquarium’s TDD number is (423) 265-4498, and FM assistive listening devices are available on site. For more information, call 1-800-262-0695.


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